Joan Tanenhaus reports on some of the exciting video modeling resources available to teach behavioural, social and communication skills to children with ASD or developmental delaysVideo modeling is an educational strategy that includes the use of video-recording to target specific behaviours in order to help the learner to observe, imitate, remember, generalise and adapt these behaviours. Positive behaviours, communication skills, social cues and strong visual associations are incorporated into the videos. The technique has been particularly effective for those with autism but is helpful also for those with developmental delays.
Begun originally with VCRs, video modeling has expanded greatly with the development of DVDs and has grown even more popular with the inclusion of camera and video-recording capabilities in our phones and tablets. Below are samples of the wide range of video modeling materials for children and adults that are currently available: DVDs, computer software, iPad apps and ways to create your own video modeling videos.
Watch Me Learn (www.watchmelearn.com/)
This excellent series of DVDs, based on Applied Behaviour Analysis and Verbal Behaviour models, was developed by Mary Beth Palo, the mother of a child with autism, after successfully using the technique of video modeling with her son. The DVDs present video sequences of play scenes and everyday situations and model the actions needed to communicate, with verbal responses, pointing, looking, etc. Children are encouraged to play the video over and over and to interact with parent/caregiver to practise the skills.
A New Beginning includes typical games and play scenes that model gross motor skills, imitation skills, pointing, attending, responding to, receptive language and expressive language.
Let’s Play models attending skills, receptive language skills, expressive language, imitation, social and self-help skills.
School Days has sequences related to getting ready for school, organising a book bag, getting on the bus, going to classes, interacting with other students and teachers, and doing homework.
Friends teaches social skills through activities such as playing catch, basketball, painting, snack time, charades, a treasure hunt, baking with friends and more.
Riding, Hiding, Food and Fun! has activity selections that model bike riding, why questions, musical instruments, food (including hand-washing, restaurants), having fun (water balloons, puzzles, treasure hunt), environmental sounds, and more.
Fitting In and Having Fun (www.tdsocialskills.com/)
This is an outstanding series of social skills training videos for children and teens, developed by Terese Dana, a behaviour analyst and social skills consultant.
Volume 1, Fitting In and Having Fun follows Jonathan through his school day as he learns to get along better with classmates and teachers. It features real-life situations, enacted by children and shows what can be done differently to improve the social exchanges. Emphasis is placed on understanding verbal clues as well as understanding body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, posture and more. It also analyses other children’s reactions and makes suggestions on how Jonathan could have reacted differently to have a different outcome.
Volume 2, Moving On To Middle School presents videos and tips, for those in Grades 5-8 (10-13 years of age), for the following: The First Day, Getting Along, Safety in Hallways, Making Friends, Paying Attention, Staying Organised, Physical Education Class, Teasing and Bullying, The Cafeteria, Flirting and Completing Homework. With teen actors, the situations are real and relevant with tips and tangible strategies to be more socially successful.
Volume 3, Confident and In Control, targeted for Grades 1-6 (6-11 years of age), follows Jake through his school day and see how he gains confidence in social skills through situations such as: Accidents, Being Flexible, Waiting, Mixed Messages, Resolving Disagreements, Asking for Help, Joining The Group, Controlling Excitement, Filtering Comments, Common Courtesy and Taking Responsibility. In addition, there are ‘What They’re Thinking’ insight windows that reflect other people’s feelings at the moment being discussed, examples of other options Jake could have chosen for a better outcome, and a summary of things to remember.
Volume 4, High School Life ‘Unspoken Expectations’ is designed to help teach the social-emotional skills needed by teens of all ages. Topics include: Showing Empathy, Manners Count, Dealing with Stress, Sharing Conversations, Classroom Protocol, Staying Calm to Problem-Solve, Embarrassing Situations, and others. Additional videos include High School Peer Mentors’ advice to teens.
Model Me Kids (www.modelmekids.com/)
These DVDs, designed to help those with Autism, Asperger Syndrome and related disorders, feature children demonstrating appropriate social skills within the school setting. Each chapter is followed by a storyboard that summarises the rules taught. The first half of the videos are narrated and display graphics that help explain the rule. In the second half the same video is repeated without the narration. This is designed so that the lesson can be customised to individual needs. Each social skill is demonstrated in more than one situation and across environments.
Here are examples of a few of their DVDs:
Time for School presents social skills such as saying hello, listening to the teacher, sharing, taking turns, saying sorry, and many more in the classroom, library, in the playground and in the hallway.
Time for a Playdate demonstrates social skills such as greeting a friend, sharing, guest chooses, losing is OK, talking on topic, answering, taking turns, eye contact and others.
I Can Do It models appropriate behaviour during challenging situations, including transitions, waiting, doing what is asked, when a friend says no, losing, criticism and birthday party greetings, participation and saying goodbye.
Model Me Friendship models behaviours to initiate and maintain friendships, saying hello, showing interest, including others, body language and more.
Social Strategies For Kids (www.mazz.com)
This series of five DVDs focuses on social skills in students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 (5-8 years of age) and uses some video modeling techniques along with narration, animation and music to teach social and coping strategies. It’s a variation on traditional video modeling and is an effective extension and reinforcer of skills.
Animated characters introduce various age-appropriate situations that children face in school, at home and with their peers. Then, using video modeling clips, appropriate strategies are demonstrated by children in a clear and explicit way. The strategies are then reinforced through music videos, creating an audio-visual tool that is educational, motivating and reinforces positive social interactive behaviours.
Marvel and Friends: Handling Transitions and Change deals with situations such as preparing for change, changing activities in school, when things don’t go your way, handling surprises, and when you don’t know what to do.
Marvel and Friends: Sharing and Taking Turns focuses on teaching socially appropriate ways of interacting with other children, with emphasis on sharing and taking turns.
Get Along Monsters: We All Get Mad Sometimes focuses on topics related to anger.
Get Along Monsters: 5 Ways to Work Things Out models strategies such as ‘Hands Down, Use Your Words’, ‘Don’t Blame, Ask Questions’ and ‘Try Different Ideas’.
Get Along Monsters: 8 Ways to Handle Anger model strategies such as ‘Catch your Anger, Then Cool Off’, ‘Move Your Body’ and ‘Talk About Your Angry Feelings’.
Some computer software programs now incorporate video modeling and expand the technique to include interactive learning activities as well. An excellent example of this is:
Judy Lynn ‘In Sequence’ Series: Daily Living (www.judylynn.com/)
This excellent program, for Windows computers as well as SmartBoards, introduces, teaches and reinforces sequencing skills for children and adults. There are 45 different sequences of 2-10 steps related to daily living, including eating different foods, brushing teeth, buying things, folding clothing, dressing and many more basic skills. Each sequence is first presented as a video clip that demonstrates and narrates the activity (the video modeling component). This is followed by a review section where the sequence is described, narrated and shown with pictures. After this, from 2-10 pictures are presented which can be sequenced by the user. There are also step-by-step comprehensive directions to add your own videos and sequences.
This program is also available as a series of iPad and Android apps, called Sequencing Tasks – Life Skills.
Attainment’s ‘Look ‘n Cook’ DVD Set (www.attainmentcompany.com/)
This is another variation and expansion of traditional video modeling. In addition to the videos, there is a PDF file on the disk with illustrated print materials that work together with the videos (a fully illustrated cookbook is also available). These print recipes are clear, colourfully illustrated and easy to ‘read’.
The set has two DVDs.
The first one contains a 15-minute introductory segment that covers important cooking concepts, including Safety, Food Words, Kitchen Tools and Cooking Hygiene. You hear definitions/descriptions of terms and tools and then see a brief video that clearly demonstrates them (i.e., what ‘boil’ looks like, how to ‘unplug’, how to ‘set the table’, etc). Safety tips (i.e., use of mitts, opening pots, reading labels, etc.) are also clearly discussed and demonstrated.
The PDF file contains illustrated pages that can be printed out and used to reinforce these concepts before, during and after the cooking experience. The remainder of the first DVD includes the video recipes for breakfast and lunch, and vegetables, each presented with a clear and well-designed live action video of about two-minutes length.
The second DVD has the videos of the recipes for dinner, beverages, and dessert. Each of the 62 video recipes has a corresponding illustrated step-by-step print recipe that you can print from the PDF. Both videos and illustrated print directions can be used to introduce the cooking lesson, used along with the cooking experience, and also as a follow-up for review. Attainment Company has a large selection of other video modeling DVDs and Apple apps that can to be used to help students with learning functional skills.
As with other articles, space and time does not permit me to write a comprehensive and complete guide to video modeling and related materials so remember to search online, on YouTube and on the App Store to find other sources of DVDs, apps and print material related to using video modeling techniques and creating your own videos.
Some other DVDs, software programs, and related material:
Video Modeling iPad Apps – check the App Store for more information and for links to the developers’ websites:
To create your own video modeling sequences: